Mash Up of Feelings on College Debt

Reflection 1 (Experience):
Working with video I found very similar to the way I work with text, or at least in my process of composing and putting together ideas. The first thing I ever have trouble with is coming up with a topic. I think and struggle, and think and struggle, until I usually look to what’s going around me and I pull from personal experience to write about. The video was the same way. I wrestled with multiple topics, but I found that college debt was perfect for me but also for other because it is a topic that is different for everyone depending on their financial situation.

There were many different interpretations one can get from college debt. I chose to look at the overwhelming pressure it puts on students during and after their time at college. College debt is something that looms over you every day until many years later when it is finally paid off. Keeping this in mind I found my song first by looking up songs that expressed feelings of stress. “Pressure” by Paramore was one of the first songs that was listed and since I’ve heard the song before I knew it would go perfectly with my topic choice. After having my song I knew I needed to find video. I knew I had to find lots of videos because the pace of the song was pretty fast.

Like writing a paper or written assignment, I started with brainstorming and notes. Just like we did in class, I wrote down all of the words that I associated with college debt. Pressure and stress were the two words that I felt were the strongest, so my video is based around those two words with metaphors like Jenga building, a pressure gage, digging a hole, and a weight falling top of someone.
At first finding videos was tough. I would type in a word and I felt like no video worked with what I was doing. Figuring out how to change the wording of what I was looking for was tough, but I eventually found what I was looking for. Similar to what would happen in a traditional written assignment; sometimes you have the idea, but can’t find the words to explain it.

Once I found what I thought was enough videos, which really wasn’t enough yet, I began to compose the video. It first started with tears because I had no idea what I was doing and thought there was no way I could figure it out. Before I even started I was really ready to give up because this assignment was so new to me and completely out of my comfort zone. After my boyfriend calmed me down, I entered in my first video into Sony Vegas. Adding videos in wasn’t that hard; the hard part was cropping the video to get the exact clip that I needed, especially when the clip was second long. It was not until I found a magically button on the bottom of the screen that zoomed in on clips and made even the smallest clips big enough to see and move into place. Once I figured this out using the program was fairly easy. I did refer to YouTube tutorials fairly often. These helped greatly, especially when I needed to know how to mute the video clips to just have the soundtrack play.

After figuring out the program, all that was left was growing my ideas. I would think I had enough and then it only got me another 30 seconds. But after going back to the drawing board or finding new clips I finally finished! While I thought the assignment was difficult, I did enjoy doing something new and now looking back I do realize that working with video is very similar to working with text.

Reflection 2 (Message):
There are many ideas I had for videos and where I wanted to place them before I even began the editing process. Many of them I didn’t see as being a semiotic theory, I just thought that’s the best place for it, or it’s the best representation. Others I clearly employed because I knew it was a theory or concept we had learned in class.

Two concepts that are woven throughout the video are intertextuality and juxtaposition. I like to believe my video is pretty straight forward in the clips that I use, but someone watching would need to understand the game Jenga, understand that the throwing of caps is a signifier of graduation, and also understand the concept of paying back college loans. I use juxtaposition in many areas of the video. One example of juxtaposition is at the 37 second mark. At this section a girl is lifting weight and it immediately falls on her. Following this is the throwing of the graduation caps. Graduating is supposed to be a celebration, but there is always the burden of your loans looming over you. So putting these two videos next to each other points to what college debt is really doing.

The next concept I used is montage. I used montage in two different places. The first is at 1:50. In this section I quickly show images of things most people want after getting out of college (a house, a new car, marriage), and in between each put a “denied” stamp. The toll college loans take on your credit plus the amount you need to repay each month make it very difficult to obtain any of these things. The last montage comes at the very end. There are many things that are building throughout the video (Jenga, pressure gauge, and the digging hole) are come full circle at the end.

I also use many semiotic theories in the mashup. The semiotic theories I use are metaphor, ideal and real, foreground and background, denotation and connotation, and lastly, past, present, and future. One metaphor that occurs numerous times in the video is the Jenga game. In Jenga you build a tower of blocks and then slowly take them out and place them on top trying to keep it upright. This is very similar to college debt. Each year you take out a loan, which is money you don’t physically have yet, and this makes you a little bit more financially unstable each year. The next is ideal and real; this is seen in the scene I mentioned above with the things we want, the ideal, and the things we actually can afford, the real. The next theory I did not realize I used until after I re-watched the video. The clip with the teenage girl in a room that is turning upside down is one that I knew existed from a TV show called “Finding Carter” and I thought explained how we really have no control over what is going on. I did not however realize I was using foreground and background. In the foreground is the girl and you can see her facial expression is not very happy, but in the background everything is being turned upside down. Another theory found is denotation and connotation. This is found in the scene of the boys digging a hole. The denotation, or literal meaning, is the boys actually digging a hole, but the connotation, of the feelings evoked from this, is every loan you take out is more and more money you don’t have putting you in a financial hole. And lastly is the past, present, and future. I will be honest and say there is not much past, but really focuses on the feelings of presently being in college, and then the pressures you have after graduating.

Overall I can say that every clip I used in the video was placed there for a purpose and that together, I think, they tell my story of college debt.

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